Help – ADD, or something else?

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    • #71920

      I am a 45yo female and, as I have been searching for ways to support my daughter, who has some ADD behaviors, I have begun to suspect I may have it. I’d appreciate thoughtful opinions here.
      I have never been able to focus on things that bore me- boredom is super painful to experience. I’ve always avoided “real jobs” – I work as my own boss. I am great at what I do, but I feel I’d be incompetent at a real job. I felt very fake in the short periods where I did have one.
      I am either all in with full initiative or I am bored and disengaged. As soon as I figure something out, I am done with it and desperately want something else. For the first part of my life, I had trouble staying in the moment. I couldn’t even understand the supposed value of it. I also craved attention. I can still slip into being funny and thriving on it, but I also can become abruptly bored by a social situation and want to withdraw. I also had (have??) several concurrent thoughts, all the time.
      Some of that has changed perhaps due to yoga and meditation. I did a ten day seated meditation silent retreat that was hard, but seems to have had a lasting impact, despite rarely meditating ever again. I do love teaching yoga. Yoga gives my mind a movement or breath to focus on. Also I was on zoloft for a few months in my 30s- could that have had a lasting stabilizing effect? I no longer get horrible depressions, nor obsess over social rejection.
      The biggest luxury life affords, for me, is being able to focus on anything I want.
      Because of impatience with school, and always seeking out the next thing over the horizon, I became a speed reader very young. I still get lost in reading. With the advent of social media, my reading patterns have changed to more short-form articles, but I do hyper-focus on that phone for long periods. I was always bored by math, but seemed to “get” words – large vocab early on and I can guess the spelling or meaning of words from their component parts (oh, the Greek root…) and love to write – as long as it is about a topic of my choice.
      I have always felt “weird,” and “different,” which could be because I WAS different in the groups I found myself in (white American kid in Africa, then Africa-raised kid in the US, then Mennonite kid in a secular college, etc.)
      I am organized – I don’t lose things, I’m definitely not messy, I don’t usually run late. But every once in a while, maybe once a week, I space on an appointment. Usually because something else out of the routine distracted me.
      I need a visually pleasing, uncluttered, beautiful home environment and computer desktop. But I don’t fold the clothes inside my drawers.
      Intensely as an adolescent, and well into my thirties, I felt severe bouts of depression despite being very fortunate. There are painful family dynamics that could explain that, but my reaction was to experience as traumas what others might have taken in stride. I definitely suffered “rejection sensitive dysphoria.” The work I did to heal is the basis for my professional skills as a life coach and personal values as a social justice advocate.
      I have an extreme preference for go-with-the-flow vs. planning, although I’ve learned to use and follow my calendar. I can provide a loose routine for my kids, but in unstructured time, I’m very spontaneous and go with whatever strikes my fancy. This is hard for my daughter, who hates the unexpected or changes to plans.
      I find it hard to put a finger on what about my current way of life is a “problem.” I love being able to focus on whatever I want and I don’t feel the appeal of learning to focus on boring things. But I do wonder… if I were on meds, would I be able to care more about “succeeding?” (Maybe building a bigger clientele, having a five-year business plan for growth… or something…?) For me, the game is to be adequate, not excellent, and to “win” for me is to do do the least I can and still be happy. Happiness is to quickly get responsibilities out of the way and not have them anymore. (I consider myself lazy, but others look at the bajillion irons I have in the fire and would never say that.) With medicine, maybe I would set different goals and make more money, have more influence, build something lasting. I would be more proud to feel like I could do anything, rather than like “real” jobs and “real” accomplishments and being like other, competent, normal people, are things that are mysteriously out of my reach. Would I be a better parent – focusing in more consistently on helping them learn and plan things? Would I publish my novel? (I got stuck at the sending to publishers part.) Writing for a living has been a lifelong dream I never have really seriously tried to do, despite encouragement.
      If anything, I’d like to be MORE spirited, creative, and free, not less. But I wonder…
      Anyway, thanks for reading, and please share if you feel you have any good insights for me.

    • #71922


      I’m a 58 year old female and I learned I have ADD/ADHD when my son was diagosed about 17 years ago. Looking back, as I learn more about ADHD, I realize that the poetry and art that would flow through me as I hyperfocused finding just the right words and images at odd hours, was probably ADHD-related and I didn’t know. I just thought I was creative, sensitive, artistically expressive, overly empathetic — and the struggles with relationships were probably due to too many moves, my shyness and a dysfunctional family.

      I think it’s important to get a diagnosis. I got one for my son and later went to a professional for a diagnosis and explained why. I also have been in counseling for about 25 years. I did start taking medication about 15 years ago and this, along with skills and strategies learned through good therapy, has made a positive difference. However, I haven’t been coached specifically as ADHD relates to work — and right now am pretty miserable in an unstructured educational administrative positive with multiple tiers of “customers” to support with unclear supervision and expectations. The classroom gave me structure and creativity that I didn’t realize would not be part of my current position. Now I realize I do much better with structure to stay organized, but also have “room” for being creative and spontaneous when I need to.

      I don’t know if this helps, but this position started out appearing creative with freedom and leadership opportunities. However, the position wasn’t well planned, has messy boundaries and continues to change. It’s been difficult to meeting the changing expectations of numerous people who need support and has led to some conflict, learning by stepping on toes and has knocked at my self-confidence. I’ve been told I’m too enthusiastic and need to stay focused on my “to do” list, and though I’m an administrator, the position has little authority. Not a great place for someone with ADHD to be.

      I, too, have always wanted to publish books and previously worked as a professional writer in private industry. . . I have no idea where to begin with that dream. I just know I need to find a place where I can be successful and be appreciated for enthusiasm, independence and creative thinking — and I think this all is related to ADHD qualities. Once I feel like I’m grounded, I can dream about my passions again 🙂

      BTW — Yoga and meditation help me immensely. . . when I practice and teach yoga, I feel centered and confident regardless of what’s going on around me.

      Would you be more encouraged to write and send to the publisher if you had a partner working with you? I know when I think about working independently, it feels more comfortable to work with a partner.

      I hope this helps. Thanks for listening to me as well!

    • #71944
      Penny Williams

      Try completing these online self-tests for ADHD and see if it signals that possibility. You can take these quizzes to your doctor to explore the possibility further.

      [Self-Test] Could You Have Adult ADHD / ADD?

      [Self-Test] ADHD Symptoms in Women and Girls

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

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